April 26, 2008 in Nation/World

California triathlete killed by shark

Allison Hoffman Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

People play in the water near a sign warning of danger at Cardiff State Beach in Encinitas, Calif., on Friday, after a shark believed to be a great white killed a swimmer nearby. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. – A shark believed to be a great white killed a 66-year-old swimmer with a single, giant bite across both legs Friday as the man trained with a group of triathletes, authorities and witnesses said.

Dave Martin, a retired veterinarian from Solana Beach, was attacked at San Diego County’s Tide Beach about 7 a.m., authorities and family friend Rob Hill said.

Martin was taken to a lifeguard station for emergency treatment but was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a statement on the Solana Beach city Web site. His injuries crossed both thighs, said San Diego County sheriff’s Sgt. Randy Webb.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography shark expert Richard Rosenblatt said the shark was probably a great white between 12 and 17 feet long.

“It looks like the shark came up, bit him and swam away,” said Dismas Abelman, the Solana Beach deputy fire chief.

The attack took place about 150 yards offshore. Several swimmers wearing wet suits were in a group when the shark attacked, lifeguard Craig Miller said. Two swimmers were about 20 yards ahead of the man when they heard him scream for help. They turned around and dragged him back to shore.

Swimmers were ordered out of the water for a 17-mile stretch around the attack site and county authorities sent up helicopters to scan the waters for the shark. Eight miles of beach were closed.

“The shark is still in the area. We’re sure of that,” Solana Beach Mayor Joe Kellejian said.

Hill, a member of the Triathlon Club of San Diego, said he was running on the beach while about nine other members were in the water when the attack took place.

“They saw him come up out of the water, scream ‘Shark,’ flail his arms and go back under,” Hill said. “The flesh was just hanging,” and Martin may have bled to death before he left the water, Hill said.

A witness, Ira Opper, described the victim as “burly and athletic.” He said the man was wearing a black wet suit that was shredded on both legs.

Shark attacks are extremely rare. The last fatal shark attack in California, according to data from the state Department of Fish and Game, took place in 2004, when a man skin diving for abalone was attacked by a great white shark off the coast of Mendocino County.

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